COMPREHENSIVE AIR, WATER AND SOIL TESTS REVEAL NO SAFETY THREAT TO STUDENTS, STAFF AT BYRD LEARNING CENTER CAMPUS IN GRANITEVILLE
Whether there is the possibility of severe weather or an exercise with law enforcement to improve our response during hard lockdown scenarios, the safety and security of all students, teachers and staff members remains the Aiken County Public School District’s top priority.
This commitment to safety also extends to school buildings and facilities across Aiken County.
When concerns related to the safety of our buildings and facilities are voiced, as they were during a Town Hall meeting at Leavelle McCampbell in November regarding possible pollutants at Byrd Learning Center, the issues receive the immediate attention of District administrators and our facilities and maintenance staff. Studies conducted at Byrd Learning Center after the meeting thoroughly examined air, water and soil quality and found no evidence of any danger to any person working at the facility or anyone who visits the campus.
Additionally, facilities and maintenance records show upgrades and improvements at the Byrd Learning Center facility as taking place in 2016, 2015, and 2000. The upgrades included the installation of a brand new roof (2016), a new HVAC unit (2015), and floor tile removal (2000).
“We appreciate the concern of our community members and welcome any and all safety-related inquiries,” stated Aiken County Public Schools Chief Officer of Operations and Student Services Dr. Shawn Foster. “Safety is our number one priority, and we want all community members, District employees and students to feel safe when they visit any of our school campuses or facilities. Immediately upon hearing the concerns about Byrd Learning Center, we scheduled and conducted tests to ensure the continued safety of our students and employees. These tests have shown conclusively that no threat to students or staff members exists.”
During the November 3, 2017, meeting at Leavelle McCampbell, a former Byrd Elementary School administrator requested that environmental studies be conducted at the facility, and that the District check into a waste holding pond located near the campus.
The District contracted with CSRA Testing and Engineering of Augusta, Georgia, for air quality, water quality and soil testing at Byrd Learning Center.
AIR QUALITY TESTING
An air quality assessment was conducted in November at Byrd Learning Center. The results of that assessment found no visual evidence of moisture damage or fungal growth, and no indicators of indoor air quality concerns. Sample analyses indicated one area of the facility with an elevated spore count, which the company recommended be addressed with a general cleaning of the space with an anti-bacterial detergent.
Soil samples were collected in November from four areas at the perimeter of the Byrd Learning Center campus. These samples were analyzed for seven metals, nitrates and 49 volatile organic compounds. Laboratory analysis for nitrates showed no detection (ND) and analysis of all 49 volatile organic compounds showed no detection (ND). Laboratory analysis of metals found in the soil samples reflected only those of a general background condition, or representing levels that may be found anywhere in our geographic area.
WATER QUALITY TESTING
Eleven water samples were collected in December from a variety of sources covering the entire Byrd Learning Center campus. These samples were tested for copper and lead contaminants, with results matched against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for drinking water. A laboratory analysis showed all samples as testing well below EPA actionable levels.
LOCATION OF WASTE HOLDING POND
The waste holding pond in question is located approximately 1,800 feet (or three-tenths of a mile) from the Byrd Learning Center campus and sits on property not owned by Aiken County Public Schools. According to maps of the area indicating changes in elevation, the pond site is at between 100 and 150 feet below the elevation of Byrd Learning Center, meaning any affect the pond might have on water quality at the BLC campus would be negligible.
IMPROVEMENTS AT BYRD LEARNING CENTER
According to District records, Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (ADHERA) tests conducted at Byrd Learning Center in 1998 recommended when feasible the removal of certain areas of floor tiles with Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM). Environmental Consulting Services, Inc. completed this project June 19, 2000, at Byrd Learning Center, removing all suspect materials.